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The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation is responsible for Pennsylvania teacher certification. Pennsylvania offers offers a two level certificate structure issuing the following certificates:
- Professional Instructional Certificate Level I – This is Pennsylvania’s entry-level certificate. It is valid for up to a maximum of six “service” years during which time an individual must meet the requirements to move to a Level II Certificate. It may not be renewed.
- Professional Instructional Certificate Level II – This certificate is continuously valid provided that the holder fulfills the continuing education requirements every five years.
Pennsylvania issues the following types of certificates:
- Instructional certificates – these are available in the following areas: early childhood (birth – grade 3), elementary (K-6), all grades (K-12) for specific subjects, specific subjects for secondary grades (7-12), and special education (birth – 12).
- Educational specialist certificates – issued to a person whose primary responsibility is to render professional service other than classroom teaching.
- Supervisory certificates.
- Administrative certificates.
- Letter of eligibility.
- Vocational certificate.
The Process for Pennsylvania Teacher Certification
The process to obtain a Level I Pennsylvania Professional Instructional Certificate is relatively straightforward. To obtain such a certificate, an individual must:
- Have a Bachelors degree or higher.
- Complete an approved education preparation program that includes student teaching from a Pennsylvania college or university. An individual may also graduate from an out-of-state program in a state with which Pennsylvania has signed an Interstate Agreement. The out-of-state program has to be considered “comparable” to those offered in Pennsylvania colleges and universities. The PDE Bureau of Teacher Certification and Preparation will review a candidate’s credentials to determine eligibility. Pennsylvania has signed Interstate Agreements with the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The out-or-state candidate must meet Pennsylvania’s GPA and testing requirements.
- Receive a recommendation form the preparing college or university.
- Meet all of Pennsylvania’s testing requirements by passing the appropriate PRAXIS Tests (PPST Reading, PPST Writing, PPST Mathematics, and the appropriate subject tests).
- Meet the Grade Point Average (GPA) requirements graduating with a Bachelors degree with a GPA of 2.8 or higher for applications submitted between September 1, 2004 and August 31, 2005, or 3.0 or higher for applications submitted after September 1, 2005. All candidates with a Master’s degree transcript must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
- Meet the academic preparation in math and English semester hour credit requirements as published on the PDE web site.
To obtain a Level II Pennsylvania Professional Instructional Certificate, an individual must:
- Hold a valid Level I Pennsylvania Professional Instructional Certificate with three years of satisfactory service.
- Complete 24 semester credits at the graduate or undergraduate level, or 24 PDE-approved intermediate unit (IU) credits beyond their initial Bachelors degree.
- Complete a PDE-approved induction program.
Additional subject areas may be added to a Pennsylvania certificate by completing an approved education program and passing the appropriate PRAXIS specialty test.
Non-U.S. citizens applying for a license must submit a notarized copy of their resident alien card, permanent immigrant visa, or I-551 permit.
Certification for Teachers Certified in Other States
Individuals who hold a valid National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certificate will be issued a Professional Instructional II Certificate similar in subject and grade level scope with no additional requirements.
Individuals who have a valid out-of-state certificate from a state with which Pennsylvania has signed an Interstate Contract Agreement with, is comparable in subject and scope to a Pennsylvania certificate, may be eligible for a Pennsylvania Level II certificate. They must fulfill Pennsylvania’s testing requirements, unless they have three or more years of teaching experience on their valid out-of-state certificate in the last seven years. In that case, the candidate will only have to pass the appropriate PRAXIS II content area test or tests.
To fulfill educational requirements, Pennsylvania does not accept alternative preparation programs from other states, or candidates who obtained a license without having to complete a formal education preparation program.
Individuals will receive the closest comparable Pennsylvania license to their out-of-state license.
Pennsylvania License Renewal
Individuals with a Level II Pennsylvania Professional Instructional Certificate must complete one of the following continuing education activities every five year to maintain their certificate:
- Six college credits.
- Six PDE-approved in-service credits.
- Any combination of the above.
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